A Bristol employment tribunal ordered a continuation of contract for Dave Reeves, who was dismissed just before Christmas by TNT following attempts by his managers to stop him becoming a shop steward for his colleagues who worked at night on loading bays at the Yate, Bristol, TNT depot.

Announcing the order, employment judge Mrs O R Harper said there was a good chance that Dave Rees was dismissed because of his union activity and his proposed shop steward position.

Unite regional industrial organiser Pam Jennings said: "The lengths to which TNT has gone to stop Dave Reeves representing the interests of his colleagues at TNT Yate are astonishing.

"First, local management decided that they would not allow him to be a shop steward because they weren't happy with how he had been selected. So, we arranged a fresh system of nomination and election. But that wasn't acceptable to the company either.

"Despite misgivings, I agreed to hold a further election. Then, surprise, surprise: TNT sacked Dave Rees before Christmas, claiming that an accident in which he sustained shoulder and back injuries, and for which he had not claimed any compensation, was a fake.

"TNT management could give lessons in oppression to the worst Victorian mill owners. But the interim relief order made by the employment tribunal must be a signal to the company that it is time that its industrial relations team joined the 21st century."

Michelle Cronin of Thompsons solicitors, who represented David Reeves on behalf of Unite, commented: "The case of David Reeves is another clear demonstration of the importance of belonging to a trade union which can defend workers' interests. Hopefully, it also reminds employers like TNT that the days of bullyboy bosses are numbered, and they cannot get away with mistreating employees and union members in this way."

This story was also publisehd by politics.co.uk.